It’s all but certain Bukayo Saka is finally in the Three Lions den as Super Eagles seem to have lost out in the race for the talented youngster, IKENWA NNABUOGOR reckons…
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr’s recent comments may have sunk whatever remained of Nigeria’s hopes of landing Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka by saying he didn’t mind losing the enterprising youngster to England.
Saka’s stocks have continued to rise with Arsenal committing him to an improved contract extension which keeps him at the Emirates Stadium till 2024.
Saka’s breathtaking showing in the red half of London continues to send signals to the Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate for a well-deserved invitation to the England national team.
Southgate and Rohr had been long time admirers of the 18-year old left back, who’s also comfortable in the midfield, but it seems currently he’s headed to Southgate’s team.
The NFF never hid their love for the youngster, had courted him by inviting him to come and observe from the stands the botched 2021 AFCON qualifier against Sierra Leone back in March, but the invite was turned down by Saka even before the Coronavirus Pandemic completely swept away that wish.
The NFF had nursed the wish of having him in the Eagles squad after losing the battle for another Anglo-Nigerian star Tammy Abraham to England, but it seems Saka will also go the way of Abraham in the long run.
It will take some damning guts for Southgate to overlook Saka based on his superlative performances this season for ‘The Gunners’.
As it were, Saka appears to be tilting towards his country of birth than his roots and transition from the Junior Lions to the senior team will just take a drop of a hat to happen.
Saka has also represented England at age-group levels and at 18, he’s still available for England U-19, U-20 and U-21 selections.
But that may not be same of his chances with Nigeria because first, he does not have a Nigerian passport and processes will have to be followed before FIFA sanctions switching of allegiance. This will also take some time to sort, but that won’t be a problem if Saka’s choice is Nigeria.
A lot has to be straightened out by Saka himself because he will have to indicate where his interests lie.
Saka’s parents may also prefer their ward’s choice to be Nigeria, but he has the final say where he wants to sell his stocks which have continued to rise in leaps and bounds.
Super Eagles, for one, appear to the most certain destination for Saka because the Eagles’ left back which has not enjoyed assured ownership since perhaps, Celestine Babayaro’s departure, will automatically become his.
But he will have to bring something extraordinary on the table to make the Three Lions left back position his own and that will take time to achieve.
Saka’s versatility will equally afford him the chance to also compete for places in the England’s midfield should he immediately agree to choose his country of birth over his parents, which seems so imminent.
Abraham is still playing substitute roles for England and gradually cementing his place in the squad and same situation could also apply to Saka but at 18, becoming a prominent member of the Three Lions’ squad may not be far in sight if he chose the England path.
Things will sure not be the same if he were to settle for Nigeria, but whichever path Saka chooses to thread, he will come good expectedly.
Saka’s race is worth it for both countries and one of the them will be the loser eventually.